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The ins and outs of research ethics at Concordia

What you need to know about the approval process
December 17, 2015
By Office of Research

Some of Concordia’s most groundbreaking student and faculty research involves human participants. Ensuring the ethical integrity of any study is a cornerstone of the university.

Indeed, all researchers designing a study that incorporates humans — or their biological materials — must get ethics approval from the ethics committee. This thorough process adheres to the highest standards. Approval is required prior to recruiting human participants.

The good news is that the research ethics team of the Office of Research is here to help guide academics through the approval process by answering questions, helping to prepare submissions and providing important feedback on study design.

Here are a few important points to keep in mind.

The more you are prepared, the less time it will take

Ethics approval normally takes three to four weeks for students and four to six weeks for faculty. You will need to provide a detailed description of your proposal and ensure all documents are coherent. If you have doubts, ask questions beforehand.

You will likely be asked to incorporate feedback into your proposal. Please do so as quickly as possible. Again, if you are unclear about the comments given, contact the research ethics team for guidance.

Collaborations with other institutions may be subject to multiple reviews

Research and funding partnerships with other institutions are increasingly common. If you are collaborating with one or more other universities it is possible your study will be subject to multiple reviews, potentially complicating the process.

To avoid this hurdle, contact the research ethics team member who will be working with counterparts at the partner institutions to ensure the approval process is as streamlined and timely as possible.

You are not alone!

Staff members in the research ethics unit provide one-on-one as well as group consultations and training sessions.

The Panel on Research Ethics of the Government of Canada also offers online tutorials and webinars.

Find more detailed information on research ethics at Concordia.

For inquiries about research ethics at Concordia, contact Monica Toca, coordinator, Research Ethics, by email at or by phone, 514-848-2424 ext. 2425.


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